Introduction: Cardboard Clutter Keeper

About: Tall nerd, degree in manufacturing tech. I dabble in everything. Many of my projects in here are pretty old. These days I mainly do 3d printing and run startups- ask me anything!


Living without closets can be a challenge. What do you do with all the stuff? The clutter? The homeless possessions yearning for their proper place?

Here is the answer! For the price of a few tacks and a piece of cardboard, you can make a home for your little items that you want to store and display.

Essentially what this is is a foldable shelf made of cardboard that can be stuck to the wall anywhere.

Let's make it!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

You are going to need some fairly sturdy corrugated cardboard to make this shelf. I used a pizza box. Shipping boxes are sturdy and work well. Something like a cereal box is too weak.

To make this all you need is:

  • Knife/scissors
  • pen/pencil
  • ruler
  • some tacks/nails/pushpins

Step 2: This One's a Little Sketchy...

Sketch out the pattern shown on your cardboard. Note the direction of the corrugation. Failure to put the corrugation in the right direction will make your shelf structurally weak and a bit flaccid.

The dimensions that I have here are for a simple smaller shelf, but depending on your needs and the strength of the material, you can change the scale as you see fit.

Note the difference between the dotted lines and the solid lines.

Step 3: Cut It Out

Cut out the pattern as shown.

Step 4: Make Bend Lines

Get a smooth hard object like the end of a marker or something. Rub it along the lines shown in order to knock down the corrugation ridges and allow an even fold. The top layer of the paper may rip a little but don't let it go far.

Step 5: Fold It Up

Fold the shelf up as shown.

Step 6: Decorate!

Get out those art supplies and make it look pretty. I just doodled with a marker, but you can go wild with whatever media you like.

Step 7: Stick It to the Wall

Attach it to the wall, one flap first, then the other as shown. If you want, you can try to make it really level, but I just eyeballed it and it turned out okay. Three tacks per side should work for most applications.

Step 8: Testing

This little shelf is really strong, as you can see here. It can easily hold a large textbook, and with some balancing, hold 4 cans of food. Over time a large weight will pull it off the wall, but for small items it can last for years.

Other ideas: You can use other materials to make these shelves. Coroplast corrugated plastic works very well. (a great way to upcyle old election signs). You can easily reinforce the cardboard shelves by using heavier fasteners to stick it to the walls, extra layers of cardboard, tape, papier mache, or by gluing Popsicle sticks to the shelf.